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AFSPC team trains for 2018 Defender Challenge


PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Fourteen Security Forces teams from U.S. Air Force major commands, Great Britain and Germany will be testing their skills in realistic weapons scenarios, simulated dismounted operations and grueling combat endurance events as part of the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge, to be held Sept. 10-13 at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas. The team with the most combined points wins the coveted Defender Challenge Championship Trophy. Great Britain has held the trophy since winning it at the last Defender Challenge in 2004. (Courtesy graphic)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Security Forces Airmen from across Air Force Space Command train for the Air Force Defender Challenge competition. (U.S. Air Force video by Dave Grim)


PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Security Forces Airmen from across Air Force Space Command are expected to compete in the 2018 Defender Challenge at Joint Base San Antonio - Camp Bullis, Texas Sept. 10-13, 2018.

The Defender Challenge, returning after a 14-year hiatus, is a competition amongst 14 Security Forces teams from Air Force major commands, Great Britain and Germany. The contest aims to develop more lethal and capable security forces Airmen, as well as provide familiarization with U.S.coalition partner operations.

The AFSPC team is comprised of Airmen from each wing - Tech. Sgt. Sinjen Halsey, 21st  Security Forces Squadron and team captain; Tech. Sgt. Spencer Wallace, 50th SFS; Senior Airman Leopoldo Ruiz, 30th SFS; Senior Airman James Strohmeier, 21st SFS; Senior Airman Nicholas Rauch, 460th SFS; Airman 1st Class Eric Knierim, 30th SFS; and Airman 1st Class Oscar Delgado, Jr., 45th SFS.

Defenders will be tested in weapons scenarios, dismounted operations and physical fitness, for the chance to win the Sadler Cup, held by Great Britain since 2004. The trophy is named after Maj. Gen. Thomas Sadler, Air Force Chief of Security Police from 1975-1977.

"It's definitely an honor to be a part of Security Forces tradition," said Halsey. "We're showing that we're not only law enforcement and security, but we're also a number one Air Force warfighter."

The top members of each AFSPC security forces squadron were chosen to represent the MAJCOM at the international competition. Selectees earned their spots based on their firing ability, physical fitness and combat readiness through tryouts hosted at each base.

"It's an honor to be selected from my home station, out of one of the biggest security forces squadrons in the Air Force, to come represent Air Force Space Command," said Knierim. "I'm happy to be here with my team."

Team members arrived at Peterson Air Force Base Sept. 1, 2018, to begin a seven-day training program. Room clearing simulations, land navigation exercises and firearms training filled their schedules, topped off by a 60 pound ruck march up the 2,744 step Manitou Incline hiking trail, at a 2,000 foot elevation gain.

"Training has been really tough. We're trying to push all of these Airmen physically and mentally past their limits," said Halsey.
Though the Airmen have not served as a team together before, their training quickly bonded them with a unique brotherhood.

"Our team clicked within the first half hour to 45 minutes we were together, and we were already knocking each other," said Knierim. "We've only gotten closer and I wish we could train together for longer than the time we have."

AFSPC Commander Gen. Jay Raymond said he has the utmost confidence in the team as they compete against their rivals at the 2018 Defender Challenge. 

"We are extremely proud of our Defenders who are representing the command at Camp Bullis next week," said Raymond. "These Airmen truly represent the best of the Air Force's Security Forces."

Follow the Defender Challenge team's progress in San Antonio at


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